Future Fit’s future of fitness – part one
In the first of a 3-part series, our Head of School Paul Swainson reviews last year’s predictions on what would be popular in 2015, and looks ahead to 2016 and beyond.
Back in December 2014 I wrote about what I thought would be key trends in the fitness industry, and specifically for those working within it, for the following 12 months. That blog is here if you want to see what I said in a bit more detail.
A wise man suggested you should review your previous predictions before offering thoughts on what the next year may hold, so ahead of a look into 2016, here’s a quick recap:
Behaviour change coaching and small group training
From the ACSM’s top 20 trends for 2015 I picked out behaviour change skills and small group training as particularly hot topics for fit pros. For the latter, I emphasised the importance of finding a niche – creating and delivering programmes for groups of people with particular goals. Although this has relevance for all forms of training - one-to-one as well as small group - I believe the concept is really starting to be embraced by the industry, with many trainers realising that if they can focus on offering a solution to a very specific problem, and if enough people have that problem, it’s a recipe for a very successful business.
For behaviour change, I said there would be a big focus on this area. I was wide of the mark on this.
There’s been a HUGE focus on it.
The idea that we can just tell our clients what to do and they will do it perfectly now seems ludicrous to us as trainers, whereas 10 years ago we were more likely to blame our customers for not being motivated enough if they ‘failed’ to follow our advice, thinking we’d fulfilled our side of the bargain by providing what we thought was great instruction.
NLP, coaching, psychology, lifestyle management – there’s many names but whatever you want to call it, helping the client to alter their mindset is now acknowledged as being crucial to the role of a PT. Exercise, nutrition and lifestyle manifest themselves as behaviours and changing them to ones that move the client towards their goal is fundamentally what good trainers do – but it’s not easy, which links to another point:
Nothing worth doing is ever easy
I also highlighted a couple more trends I thought would gather momentum in 2015. The importance of business skills has been well-established for a while, and sales and marketing in particular, but if you’re a social media-savvy fit pro you won’t have been able to scroll through your feed too far this year before coming across a blog, seminar, webinar or course offering the latest fool-proof system to dominate the market.
To be fair, some of these contain very good information, but don’t be taken in by the hype on its own. Developing your business skills as much as you can is still vital, but if there truly was one magical formula to success we’d all be millionaires. The only thing common to any complete ‘system’, if it is valid, is that it will require hard work, effort and time to really see the benefits.
“I became an overnight success, but it took years to get there” - Anon
The final shift I thought may happen was in the use of technology. Not especially surprising; you can’t fail to have noticed how apps, trackers, websites and the ‘cloud’ have all had a huge impact on the fitness world in recent times, but things are really starting to take off, with the wearable fitness tech market alone forecast to be valued at $14.9 billion within 6 years by one analyst1.
While some were worried that this poses competition to personal trainers, most see opportunities to incorporate technology into their business – using it to complement not compete with what they offer.
In fact I think technology will drastically change the way fitness professionals provide their services in the near future, as I’ll talk about in part two of this blog.
What did I miss?
Of course there’s a long list of trends, some more mainstream than others, within the industry so it would be impossible to identify all the ones that are significant. However in a ‘not seeing the wood for the trees’ moment I completely failed to spot the influence social media has had on the fitness world in recent times.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like are awash with opinions, quotes, images, workouts, recipes and supposed ‘role models’ which has had an interesting effect. Initially people took inspiration, motivation and valuable education from peers as well as those they looked up to and saw as experts. While that’s still the case for many, the nature of the internet means there’s almost too much information available now. There’s a lot of ‘noise’ which makes it confusing for people to know who to listen to, and we’ve started to see a backlash against those who apparently aren’t helping the industry or the public (think ‘bro-science’ and the fixation on body image).
As my own modest Twitter following increases (@PaulSwainson if you’re interested), perhaps I’m contributing to that issue in a way, although I do my best not to spout rubbish (I’m sure some would argue with me on that).
In part two of this blog I’ll share the single biggest shift I think the fitness industry, and personal training particularly, will see next year and beyond.